800bhp Mitsubishi Evo X


For some people, cars and tuning is in the blood. That primeval urge deep down in their gut that drives them to alter their automotive steeds away from how the factory intended. For these individuals, oil and petrol are their tipples of choice, having often inherited their borderline addictions from their equally petrol-headed parents. But far from being a problem which needs addressing, via a series of steps or sponsors to keep them on the straight and narrow, members of Automotives Anonymous should be encouraged and admired, for these are the people who take what is currently possible in the car scene and flip it on its head. 28-year-old Bruce Amurao is one such person afflicted with high-octane genes and, looking at his incredible Mitsubishi Evo X on these pages, you can see that his case is a severe one.

‘I grew up in the Philippines where my family owned an all-in- one automotive shop,’ explains Bruce. ‘It offered everything from bodywork and paint services to engine building, interior trimming and even complete hand-built custom vehicles, so I’ve been exposed to all elements of the car modification process for as long as I can remember.’

Keen to continue the family business as he grew older, as soon as Bruce was of the right age to run his own firm, with the help of his family, he opened his own tuning shop called Wheelers Motorsports when he moved to California.

Based in Chino Hills, Los Angeles, Wheelers Motorsports is a similarly-styled one-stop shop for all things automotive, but is enjoying a growing reputation within the Mitsubishi community for being the guys behind building some of the West Coast’s best Evo builds – something that we can vouch for after seeing Bruce’s wide-bodied creation up close and personal on the photoshoot.

But even though Bruce is becoming the Evo king of Cali, with an additional two other extreme Evos propping up his garage fleet, too, his own personal preference when it comes to cars comes in a completely different flavour. ‘Although I owned a 2001 Mitsubishi Lancer GSR as my first car back in the Philippines, it was when I moved the States in 2007 and bought a supercharged 1988 MR2 that I got hooked on Toyota’s tiny two seater,’ grins Bruce. ‘I’ve got six of them now! Five are SW20s. One has a stock turbo, there’s a mildly modified one, a hardtop, a rare authentic TRD2000GT kitted one and a fully built 2.2-litre stroker engine one with a huge turbo that I use for shows and track. Then there’s the original AW11 supercharged car that my girlfriend uses as her daily. In fact, it was while on the unsuccessful look out for a Toyota Celica Alltrac to buy that led me to revisit my Evo roots, as they both share a similar AWD, four cylinder turbo platform and are both capable of anything when built right.’ And so Bruce returned to the three-pointed star.

‘The first Evo I bought in the US was an X MR,’ Bruce recalls. ‘I just had fun with it really, modifying it with a host of rare JDM parts from the likes of ARC, Ralliart, Voltex and Varis. It was just a show car really.’ Being an MR model, with Mitsubishi’s twin-clutch SST gearbox, it was fine for show use, but when Bruce fancied adding a steroid injection to the car’s performance for track use he knew he’d need a model with a manual ’box, so he bought another X, as you do…

‘I bought this car, which is a GSR model with a five-speed manual, with the sole intention of going for big power,’ Bruce says. ‘The first thing I did was focus on building the motor.’ Opting to go for the big bore route with the 4B11 engine, Bruce installed oversized forged Manley pistons and rods, bolted together with ACL bearings into the Darton MID wet sleeved block. A pair of GSC S2 cams, plus similarly-branded valve springs and retainers, join with Supertech 1mm oversized valves in the extensively ported and polished head and allow the engine to rev higher and spool the turbo faster for superior response.

‘Initially the build was a much milder affair with a Borg- Warner turbo tuned for around 500awhp – nothing too crazy,’ admits Bruce. ‘I then began looking at the exterior mods.’ Being a USA Varis authorised dealer it wasn’t much of a stretch to equip the Evo with one of the Japanese aero expert’s stunning widebody kits.

‘The Varis kit works so well on the X,’ reckons Bruce. ‘We’ve done quite a few at the shop now and they always look amazing when complete, although it’s still a bit nervewracking for the customer when you start taking an angle grinder to their car’s stock arches!’

After the bodywork was beefed up, Bruce started on the Evo’s interior, stripping it out and starting the initial designs for a rollcage for his soon to be track-bound beast. However, a certain SEMA-shaped spanner was about to be thrown into the works… ‘I got a call from the guys at XXR wheels – as those were the rims I was running on the car at the time – who offered me the chance to have the Evo on their trade booth at the 2017 SEMA show,’ Bruce remembers. ‘It was around six months until the show and the car was, in my opinion, nowhere near ready to display at such a prestigious event, but I knew this was an opportunity simply too good to miss, so I jumped at the chance.’

Unlike here in the UK, where the shows are still a great launch pad for companies to show off their latest demo vehicles and products, such is the vastness and profile of the SEMA show, the brands, and scene movers and shakers that attend, that having your car on display is a great honour that can have the knock-on effect of giving unrivalled exposure for your company.

‘I knew it would be a tight timescale to get the car how I wanted it for the show, but there was no way I was going to turn it down,’ laughs Bruce. ‘So as soon as I put the phone down after accepting the offer, I knew I had my work cut out for the next six months.’

Where the initial brief for the project was simply to build a cool track car that was to be abused at the circuit, with SEMA now in his sights, it was Bruce’s chance to show the world what he could do, so every element of the Evo had to be cranked up to 11.

‘Obviously a mild 500bhp engine just wasn’t going to cut it anymore, so the Borg-Warner blower was swapped out for a huge top mounted Comp turbo on a custom WHLRS Heliarcworks sidewinder manifold kit and screamer pipe,’ Bruce says. ‘Luckily the previous head work and bored out and forged bottom end were plenty strong enough to take the power increase, so it was just a case of upping the fueling to match the turbo with a set of FIC 2150cc injectors mounted in a Magnus fuel rail fed by three Walbro fuel pumps.’

Along with improved cooling and breathing via an HKS oil cooler and intercooler, plus a Magnus intake manifold fed by a Boomba Racing throttle body, the Evo’s 4B11 now pumps out a brutal 800bhp at the wheels.

‘But the engine was just the start,’ laughs Bruce. ‘Unlike my previous builds, I wanted to push the envelope with this car and had a lot of the parts custom made rather than simply using components you can buy off the shelf.’

Pushing the project and himself to the limit was the only way to get the car finished in time for the show, and this meant only allowing himself two to three hours’ sleep a night for much of the build.

‘The extra grunt meant that we needed to uprate the car’s transmission, too,’ explains Bruce. ‘Which was a job we tasked to Sheptrans, who built us an uprated gearbox and transfer case to deal with the massive increase in torque.

Combined with a Speedsport single carbon clutch and steel flywheel with carbon surface, it’s a bulletproof solution that allows us to transfer all the car’s performance to the Tarmac.’ Taming this torrent of power and torque has been left to a monster Brembo BT big brake kit with 380mm two-piece type three discs and 6-pot monoblock calipers up front and 345mm two-piece discs with 4-pot calipers at the rear. Not only do they stop the Evo like it’s just dropped anchor but, hiding behind the chunky bronze spokes of the 11x19in Volk Racing TE37 Ultra alloy wheels, their custom Porsche acid green paint job has become the lurid accent colour for the whole car.

‘We’ve used the Porsche acid green for the exterior graphics, but also on all of the car’s innards,’ smiles Bruce. ‘Everything from the engine bay to the car’s interior and crazy rollcage has been coated in the mutant hue, which contrasts perfectly with the deep satin blue exterior.’

Another element of the Evo’s aesthetics that complements the exterior pigment is the addition of a tonne of cool carbon-fibre parts including the cool Do-Luck boot lid with integrated duck-tail spoiler, Craft Square mirrors, Varis front splitter, Voltex Evo IX canards and the Varis rear diffuser. But probably the most eye-catching area of the Evo’s styling upgrades is the custom Kevmanz carbon-fibre bonnet, which features an engine-sized cut out to show-off Bruce’s handiwork in the engine department. The aperture also allows the huge top-mounted turbo and screamer pipe to sit proud of the original bonnet line and have unrestricted access to gulp down all the air it needs.

‘When you think of six months, it sounds like a long time, but this build was seriously tough to get done before the show deadline,’ says Bruce. ‘The sheer amount of custom elements that had to be designed and made, plus the level of the fit and finish and the very extreme nature of the car as a whole meant that, to get it right takes time, and money.’

But Bruce’s approach to building this car was the very ethos of what he preaches to his customers, too…

‘Do it once and do it right,’ smiles Bruce. ‘A lot of people try to take short cuts with their builds, or only do what their current financial position allows, even if it’s not really what they want in the long run. The problem with doing things like that is you are never truly satisfied with what you have, so you inevitably end up redoing things or starting again from scratch, which ultimately costs more money and time in the long run. By setting a goal and following it through with the right parts without cutting corners along the way, you are more likely to end up with the car you want, in a shorter space of time, and for less cash.’

And that’s the kind of quick maths that we all appreciate.

ENGINE 2.2-litre 4-cyl 16v 4B11 engine, Manley forged pistons and con rods, Darton MID wet sleeves, ACL main and rod bearings, BC 90mm head gasket, modified oil pump, GSC S2 cams, valve springs and titanium retainers, Supertech 1mm oversized valves, ported and polished head, Magnus intake manifold, Boomba Racing throttle body, HKS intercooler, HKS oil cooler, HKS carbon spark plug cover, Turbosmart BOV and wastegate with bonnet exit screamer pipe, WHLRS Heliarcworks sidewinder kit, Comp Turbo 6566 ball bearing turbo, Driven Fab catch can, FIC 2150cc injectors, Magnus fuel rail, Turbosmart FPR, Radium Engineering surge tank, dual Walbro 450 surge tank fuel pumps, Walbro 450 in-tank lift pump

PERFORMANCE 800bhp and 550lb ft of torque

TRANSMISSION Sheptrans uprated 5-speed gearbox and transfer case, Speedsport single carbon clutch and steel flywheel with carbon surface

SUSPENSION Aragosta coilover suspension with air cup kits and dual air tanks, Whiteline front and rear anti-roll bars, end links, ball joints and bushes

BRAKES Brembo BT big brake kit with 6-pot calipers painted Porsche Acid Green, 380mm two-piece type three discs (front), 4-pot calipers painted Porsche Acid Green, 345mm two-piece type three discs (rear)

WHEELS & TYRES 11x19in ET +15 Volk Racing TE37 Ultra alloy wheels in bronze with 295/30/19 Toyo R888 tyres

EXTERIOR Full Varis widebody conversion including front and rear arches, front bumper, VSDC front splitters, side skirts, custom Varis rear bumper, Spyder headlights and taillights, Voltex Cyber Evo IX dual canards, Voltex Cyber 3D endplates, Do Luck carbon-fibre duck-tail boot lid, Craft Square mirrors, custom Kevmanz carbon-fibre bonnet

INTERIOR Fully stripped interior, multi-point weldin rollcage painted Porsche Acid Green, Bride Stradia gradation seats, Ralliart shift knob, AEM gauges for boost, volts and oil temp, GReddy Serius Unify gauges for boost, oil pressure and fuel pressure, XS Power battery, Coltspeed steering wheel trim, suede and carbon dashboard, custom carbon door cards, 11in headunit




Bruce’s Evo is built for the track so it runs on sexy Aragosta coilover suspension. Not wanting to smash his exquisite varis front splitter to smithereens at every outing on the street, however, Bruce has wisely incorporated an air cup kit into the coilovers, which can lift the car a few centimetres when needed to clear any obstacles without interfering with the coilovers’ functionality when on the limit on the circuit

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Jean-Claude Landry
Jean-Claude is the Senior Editor at eManualOnline.com, Drive-My.com and Garagespot.com, and webmaster of TheMechanicDoctor.com. He has been a certified auto mechanic for the last 15 years, working for various car dealers and specialized repair shops. He turned towards blogging about cars and EVs in the hope of helping and inspiring the next generation of automotive technicians. He also loves cats, Johnny Cash and Subarus.